Greetings my Pagan friends; may your Gods be well disposed to you. May the smoke go lightly up your chimney, taking the ills and sorrows of your house with it. May your wood pile diminish slowly and your fire kindle quickly. May you not lack for ale nor friends to share it with.
Yule has come and passed, the sun has once more turned North and the short winter days grow longer. For all that, the wolf of winter howls the louder around our doors. The sky holds a promise of spring; the wolf howls louder and prowls closer around our doors for he knows his time is short.
We people of the North Intemperate Zone are the children of the seasons. Our special magic is weather magic. Out of the cold hard winter and the hot blazing summer we have fashioned our arts and our inventions. All the strength under the sky is of no avail without some-thing to push against. Yet for all our clever inventions we are still shaped by the seasons, ruled by the weather. here in the Rockies, all our promises and our contracts carry the unspoken clause, "If the road is open and the crick don't rise."
Our Mother the Earth speaks to us by the seasons, in the ever changing, ever repeated weather. Hereabout when Mother speaks all men listen. Now in the hard season between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox the lesson Mother teaches is one of patience and introspection.
Consider, my friends, how it is this time of year. We walk abroad in a world that seems dead, or at least dormant and sleeping. Yet out of this seeming death will spring the life of the summer to come. Life into death, death into life the seasons roll on. Under the frost the seeds of the plants to come are waiting. Deep in their roots the grass and the Greenwood trees are gathering strength for the green to come. A person who won't learn from nature won't long cast a shadow on the earth.
Now is the time for planning and preparation. Now, when every thing is moving slowly is the time to set our minds for the quick decisions to come. The time to plan for a journey is while the road is blocked with snow. Perspiration without preparation is a waste of effort. Now in this quiet time we should prepare for the busy season ahead. In this life the quick and the dead are judged. Those who ain't quick are judged dead. True enough, but quick alone won't get it. The frog that means to survive must be ever ready to jump, but he has to jump in the right direction. Old Blue Heron gets many a meal from frogs who jump the wrong way. We live in a hard world where to do nothing is to die, and to do the wrong thing is suicide. The eyes that look not ahead are soon stopped with grave dust.
Look into the future to plan for the future, but don't forget the past. Old defects and mistakes are a better teacher than old triumphs. Remember what went wrong in the past, so it won't go wrong again. Anyone alive to read these words must be at least fair at for-seeing the future, or have luck beyond the ordinary. Now is the time to get out the crystal ball, cast the horoscope, shuffle the Tarot cards, consider the predictions of sages and experts, read the record to establish a pattern, and then meld them all into some sensible plan of action. It's not a bad idea to have a contingency plan or two on hand just in case.
Enough of this, I am beginning to sound like a guru, and I only meant to pass the time of day. I have no certificate of appointment signed by the ultimate and witnessed by our Mother the Earth appointing me councilor to the human race. No, I'm just the asker of questions, and I don't need an appointment for that. Does a bird need an appointment to fly?
Don't pay too much attention to me, or to any other tribal elder. We are all of us ever tempted to sit in the seat of the oracle, and reveal to the young the words of the Gods, that we heard in the age we call golden. If the elder is really good at it he can even recall an age when every goose was a swan and every goat a gazelle. The flower children who said "don't trust anyone over thirty" had good reason for saying it. I would add "Don't trust anyone under thirty, either." If you can't trust your own observations and intelligence, you have a real problem.
I trust you to know the difference between gold and bull- plop. I will propose questions, you will have to find your own answers. If I, or any other old crock, knew the answers to all of life's questions, do you think we'd be here casting our pearls of wisdom to the winds?
When, and if you have a bit of time to consider general questions, after considering your own specific problems, here are a few good ones.
What should our relations be with one who has gone wrong? We should love all life, even the self made mess, the scoundrel who knows no law save his own appetites, the seeker after free lunches, the T.V. evangelist and all the self proclaimed "great leaders". We should love them, but how close should we get? Holding hands with a fool who insists on standing under a tall tree during a thunderstorm just isn't bright. The laws of nature have no pity, and being an innocent bystander is the most dangerous employment known to man. So the real question is, how close should we get?
Another to ponder, how far should we go in turning one of our fellows from the wrong path? "No effort to great to promote the right" sounds good but is it? Consider: When does a friendly word of warning become a pack of alarmist lies? How far does friendly persuasion go, before it becomes `unfriendly coercion? It's all very well to be the dedicated teacher, but when does the teacher become the demagogue? How far can a teacher go before he is interfering with the student's free will? Where does seduction end and rape begin? Just how far can one go in correcting a friend gone wrong without buying in to a real bad deal? I was once picking apples with a fellow who was color- blind. With the best intention he picked a small round hornets nest. We learn by observation.
Here's one to ponder on long cold nights when old Fenris howls outside the door, and ghost lights gleam in the northern sky. Can right ever be wrong? At first glance, it looks like the Old Heretic has drunk too deep from the good plum wine. Could be, but consider before you judge. Take for instance the statement "The Earth is our mother, we should all love, cherish and protect her." Now, I don't think you can find a sane person anywhere who don't agree with that statement, at least in spirit.
Self-preservation demands that we try to save our home and our heritage. So far so good, but just how far should we go in our protecting? What weapons should we use, and how use them? Adolph Hitler had the idea that over-population was our big problem, and he set out to fix it. The laws of nature don't need a bunch of petty bureaucrats to enforce them. No judge and jury are needed to sentence a fool to dismemberment for failing to show the proper respect for high explosives. It doesn't take the hand of Lud to drown a fool who shoots a hole in the boat. The laws of nature have no pity, you who know better and are in the boat with the armed idiot will drown along with him if he fires the shot. The trick is to save the boat. In a case like that, anything that works is right and proper-if it works. Throwing the armed lunatic overboard is fine if you can do it without upsetting the boat.
Anyone can cure a dog of running away by shooting him in the head.
It's a poor medicine that causes more pain than it cures. It is not enough to know right and defend it, you must still be right after your defense triumphs. The end would justify the means always, except any end must reflect the means and be a part of them. So I lied a little, right can become wrong. The real question is how does one defend right without destroying the right defended? That's one we all damn well better have an answer for every day.
These grey days that keep me indoors have gotten me full of questions; a house-bound heretic is a menace to man's peace of mind. Here is a question to discuss with friends by the fire over a mug of ale. I toss this in as a gift. After you have discussed the weather and displayed your knowledge of sports you'll need a topic of conversation. That boring lull in the conversation is all too easy to fill with remarks about the neighbors, and that leads all to often to digging a grave in the frozen ground. So here is my gift to the peace of the neighborhood. When is it proper to work weather magic?
I won't bore you with a discourse on the ways and means of weather magic, they are many and for the knowledgeable person they all work. I know that there are a few world-class weather fixers in my audience. Most of us are somewhere between poor and fair at weather magic. In terms of snow we range from a white frost to an occasional ground hider. The real adept can bring on a real road-blocker at will. The question is not "can it be done?", the quest-ion is "When should it be done?" Why? Before you answer it might be well to consider another one of those laws of nature. There is one that can be stated `whatever you do by whatever means is your responsibility', or in the vulgate "if you order it you have to take de-livery on it and pay for it."
My first three questions are intended for private answers, I don't want to know your answers, but I hope you do. As long as your personal moral code doesn't endanger me, I'm in favor of you keeping it personal. I have trouble enough with my own moral code. I'm not interested in yours, but I hope you are.
I'd like some input on the last question. If you have any ideas on the subject please pass them on to our ever-tolerant editors. We who love our Mother Earth, and practice a bit of benign magic owe it to each other and to humanity generally to share our ideas. Some of the magi of the old times seem to have worked out the morality of weather magic, but that was then, this is now. Or does that make a difference?
I have done my best to give you something to think about, something to keep boredom at bay and break the monotony of the cold grey days. If this doesn't work you can shovel snow and keep your body so busy that your mind won't have time to grow bored. If you don't have any snow of your own to shovel I'll let you come over to my house and have at the drifts with a shovel.
My blessing to one and all; may the green grass of spring know your shadow - with these words I do now part from thee.
PS Women: Please read mankind for man, and Hers or His for his. I respect all of you persons, but I plead `non culpa' to the charge of male chauvinism - I did not invent the English language, I only use it.
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